Frequently Asked Questions

Below you can find answers to frequently asked questions about BreastScreen Norway.
Last updated: 6/30/2020
Covid-19 and mammography: Can I attend BreastScreen Norway as usual?

BreastScreen Norway is cautiously resuming breast cancer screening services, after all routine mammograms were put on hold in mid-March due to the corona virus pandemic. 

BreastScreen Norway will contact all affected women to offer a new screening appointment. 

If you have received an invitation from BreastScreen Norway, you can attend your appointment if you DO NOT have a fever or any symptoms of respiratory illness and are NOT at risk of being infected with covid-19 in any other way. Please contact your breast center if you need to make a new appointment.  

BreastScreen Norway urges you to follow the general advice from the health authorities of proper handwashing and other ways to prevent spreading the corona virus. 

READ THIS INFORMATION BEFORE YOU ATTEND YOUR APPOINTMENT! (PDF in Norwegian and English)

How do I change or cancel my appointment?

Contact the breast center in your area if you want to change or cancel your scheduled appointment - contact information can be found here.

I just turned 50 – when will I be invited?

Age at first invitation may vary from 48-53 years. This variation is due to how the program is organised: women from different geographical areas are invited in a specific order over a two-year period.

You can find out when to expect your first invitation to BreastScreen Norway by clicking on the area where you recide in the overview here.

How can I stop receiving invitations?

The invitation letters can be stopped by contacting the Cancer Registry of Norway by phone, 22 45 13 00, or by e-mail (mammografi@kreftregisteret.no). 

We will need to know your name, address and date of birth, as well as for how long you want to stop receiving invitations.

Do not share your 11-digit national identification number (in Norwegian: fødselsnummer) or health information via e-mail!

It is also possible to stop the invitation letters by using a portal on our website. This portal is in Norwegian only, and log in requires Bank ID, BuyPass or Commfides.

What information is stored about me, and how can I opt out of such storage?

The Cancer Registry collects personal health data about individuals who participate in BreastScreen Norway. The following information is stored:

  • Name
  • Address
  • National 11-digit ID number (in Norwegian: fødselsnummer
  • Date for sending out invitations and results
  • Time and place for the screening examination
  • The result of the screening examination and any additional assessments
  • Which breast center is responsible for interpreting and storing your mammograms

You have the right to request that your personal data related to negative screening results not be permanently stored at the Cancer Registry. You can find out more about your rights, including the right to opt out, on our website (in Norwegian) or by contacting the Cancer Registry by phone, 22 45 13 00, or by e-mail (mammografi@kreftregisteret.no).

Can I choose where to attend BreastScreen Norway?

You must attend a screening unit linked to the breast center you adhere to. If you adhere to a breast center that has more than one screening unit, it it usually possible to change between these upon request.

For exemple, women in Follo may have their screening mammogram in either Ski or Lillestrøm.

Which breast center you adhere to, depends on your residential adress in the National Registry (folkeregisteret). You can find an overview of breast centres and adhering screening units here (in Norwegian only).  

This means that for example women who commute to Oslo must attend screening in their area of residence – they cannot attend screening in Oslo. Correspondingly, women living in the area of Sogn og Fjordane must attend screening in Førde and can not attend in Bergen, even though this now is in the same county Vestland.

The reason for this is that BreastScreen Norway is organised based on residential addresses in the National Registry (folkeregisteret), and that the 17 breast centres in Norway have defined geographical uptake areas for mammographic screening.

My friends have received an invitation – will I receive one too?

If you are born in one of the birth cohorts that are now being invited in your area, you will receive an invitation. You can click here to find out which cohorts are invited in your area.

Why is screening for breast cancer offered only every other year?

For women aged 50-69 with an average risk of breast cancer and no symptoms of breast cancer, it is considered sufficient to have a screening mammogram every other year. This is based on experience from mammographic screening in other European countries, and is in line with European recommendations for mammographic screening.

Why is BreastScreen Norway only for women aged 50-69?

Studies have shown that mammographic screening reduces the number of women who die from breast cancer, and the most convincing effect is for women aged 50-69. This is why Norwegian health authorities offer screening to this age group.

However, recent studies show that mammographic screening can also reduce breast cancer mortality among women aged 45-49 and 70-74. The Cancer Registry´s viewpoint is that expansion of the target group of BreastScreen Norway should be considered and evaluated in a Norwegian setting. The Ministry of Health and Care Services (Helse- og omsorgsdepartementet) makes the final decision on age extensions within the program. Read more about age groups here (in Norwegian only).

It has been claimed in the media that breast screening leads to “false cancer” and that healthy women are treated for breast cancer – is this true?

Healthy women are not treated for breast cancer. A diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer will always be based on the presence of cancer cells found in tissue samples that are evaluated by a specialised doctor (pathologist), in combination with diagnostic imaging.

However, slow growing breast cancer tumours that would never cause symptoms or threaten your life or health can be detected through mammographic screening. The detection of these cancers is called overdiagnosis. 

Overdiagnosed breast cancer is an outcome of screening. For individual women attending screening, this means they can be diagnosed with a real case of breast cancer and get treatment without actually needing it. In these cases, their breast cancer would never have been found without mammographic screening. This is different from a wrong (false) diagnosis.

We do not know who is overdiagnosed because there is no method to tell which cancers need treatment and which are so-called “nice” cancers that may not need treatment. Therefore, all women diagnosed with breast cancer are offered treatment.

I have had breast cancer - should I partcipate in BreastScreen Norway?

If you are attending regular check-ups, you should continue attending those appointments as planned. 

For some women, this means they will not attend BreastScreen Norway for some years. For others, the doctor may have decided that BreastScreen Norway should be part of the follow-up.

If you are attending BreastScreen Norway as part of your check-ups after breast cancer, you should pay the normal attendance fee of NOK 250,-. The exemption card for public health services (in Norwegian: frikort) does not cover this cost, and you must pay for your travel expenses. 

When your control period is over (up to ten years), you may attend regular screening through BreastScreen Norway. Please give us a call and let us know!

Why is ultrasound not offered?

Ultrasound is used as a supplement to mammography for diagnostic work-up. The two specialised doctors evaluating your mammograms decide whether you need to be called back for additional assessment with ultrasound or other modalities and tests.

Is the radiation dose harmful?

One mammographic screening examination provides a very low dose of radiation. This dose is smaller than the natural background radiation we are exposed to from the environment during a year.

I have a family history of breast cancer - when should I start screening for breast cancer?

BreastScreen Norway targets women aged 50-69 with an average risk of breast cancer. If you suspect a genetic disposition for breast cancer in your family, you should discuss this with your doctor (in Norwegian: fastlege). Your doctor can refer you to the department of medical genetics in your health region for counselling and assessment of your breast cancer risk.

I have received an invitation from BreastScreen Norway, but I recently had a mammogram. What should I do?

If you have had a mammogram during the last 6 months, it is very likely that your appointment in BreastScreen Norway should be postponed. Contact your breast center for further details. 

A mobile screening unit is in my area – will I receive an invitation?

If you are born in one of the cohorts that are now being invited in your area, you will receive an invitation. You can look at this overview to find out which birth cohorts are now being invited in your area.

How much does the screening mammogram cost?

It costs 267 NOK each time you attend BreastScreen Norway. The
exemption card for public health services (in Norwegian: frikort) does not cover this expense.

You must pay for any travel expenses associated with attending for the mammogram. These expenses are not covered by the patient travel settlement (in Norwegian: pasientreiser).

What happens if I have breast implants?

Breast implants can make it more difficult to take and evaluate the mammograms. Therefore, women with breast implants are more likely to be called back for follow-up checks. 

How reliable is mammographic screening?

Mammography does not detect all changes in the breasts. Breast cancer can also be found between two scheduled mammograms. Always check with your doctor (in Norwegian: fastlege) if you notice a new lump or other new changes in your breast, even if you just had a mammogram. 

What happens if breast cancer is found?

If you are called back for additional assessment at the breast clinic, and the results from these show that you have breast cancer or pre-cancerous lesions that require treatment, you will receive follow-up at the same breast center. This follow-up includes talking to a surgeon and a nurse, and planning any further examinations and treatment.

Will I receive invitations to BreastScreen Norway if I have changed my gender?

BreastScreen Norway sends out the invitations to breast screening based on the 11-digit national identification number (fødselsnummer). The system requires that the recipient is registered as a woman in the National Registry (folkeregisteret). This means that only those who are legally registered as women in the National Registry are invited to attend BreastScreen Norway.
If you are not registered as a woman in the National Registry, you need to contact your doctor (in Norwegian: fastlege) to get a referral for mammography.

What are “dense breasts”, and how does this affect the mammography examination?

The expression “dense breasts”, or mammographic density, refers to the glandular tissue found in the breasts. Mammography can provide information on breast density. It is not possible to see or feel whether a breast is dense or not. If you have a lot of dense glandular tissue in your breast, it might be difficult to detect breast cancer because tumours can hide in dense tissue.

The degree and amount of dense breast tissue differs for every woman. It also often changes over time – breast density usually decreases as women get older. 

A study from BreastScreen Norway found that about 5 % of women screened in the programme, were classified as having very dense breast tissue.

You can find more information about breast density here (in Norwegian only).

I do not understand Norwegian - will I have access to an interpreter when attending BreastScreen Norway?

You are not entitled to an interpreter when you get a screening mammogram through BreastScreen Norway.

However, if the results of the mammogram indicate that you should return for further assessment, you may have the right to an interpreter. Your health trust should assess your need for an interpreter and cover the associated expenses if it is determined that you need one.